Thursday, August 21, 2014

Password Life Hack: How This Man Changed His Life

Okay, so this isn't exactly an online marketing tip, but it was just so darn cool I couldn't resist sharing it with you.

Talk about finding everyday opportunities to make things better!

I think I'll go and change all of my passwords now ... how about you?

Mauricio Estrella
The author, who changed his password...and his life.
By Mauricio Estrella
As the input field with the pulsating cursor was waiting for me to type a password — something I’d use many times during every day — I remembered a tip I heard from my former boss.
And I decided: I’m gonna use a password to change my life.
It was obvious that I couldn’t focus on getting things done with my current lifestyle and mood. Of course, there were clear indicators of what I needed to do — or what I had to achieve — in order to regain control of my life, but we often don’t pay attention to these clues.

My password became the indicator. My password reminded me that I shouldn’t let myself be victim of my recent break up, and that I’m strong enough to do something about it. 
My password became: “Forgive@h3r”
Read the full article here

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Can We Really Trust Offshore SEO?

In my opinion, opting for offshore/cheap anything is a bad idea. It sends a message to your customers that:

1. You're cheap
2. You're struggling for money
3. You're trying to maximize your profits by exploiting slave labor.

It's ... well, it's just bad juju.

Besides, have you SEEN the english in some of these SEO spam messages? Do you really think that the English in behind-the-scenes SEO is going to be any better than the English in the spam?

Do you want to come across to your customers as prime rib or McDonald's?

Obviously, this is just my not-so-humble opinion. But what do YOU think?

~ Catharine

Should you outsource your SEO offshore?
If you are considering outsourcing SEO then where to go will be one of the considerations. With all of the email spam for low cost SEO you may be tempted to send your SEO work to a low cost offshore resource. However before you risk your business in the hands of unknown offshore companies you should seriously consider all of the options. 

At Red Alien we receive emails daily from so called ‘SEO’ offshore teams and companies wanting to partner with us or offering to take SEO work off our hands for small fees. With SEO being comprised of such an array of complex procedures many of which draw a fall into the realms of black hat SEO would you be confident with such an important service being managed from thousands of miles away from overworked, low paid individuals? We wouldn’t!

It is very difficult to tell who are the legit companies amongst the pirates out there especially when your only communication is a yahoo/gmail email and rarely even a company name. Responding to this type of email spam nearly always leads to disappointment.

By Zak Jacobs
Read the complete article here:

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Word-Of-Mouth Marketing: The Shocking Truth and What to Do About It (Part Three:The 11 Elements of a Comprehensive Social Marketing Strategy)

Part Three:The 11 Elements of a Comprehensive Social Marketing Strategy

Image from Symbleme Services Online 

Okay, okay, you’ve convinced me. I need to join the 21st century and market my business on social media. Now what?

First of all, if you think that social media marketing means just sitting down in front of Facebook a couple of times a month, maybe slapping on a picture, and telling people to buy your stuff, think again.

If you aren’t, at the very least,
  • Offering something of value to your customers, and 
  • Listening to and interacting with your customers on a regular basis,
You aren’t marketing; you are spamming. And guess what? Nobody shares or likes spam.

This infographic brilliantly summarizes the best attitude to shoot for:

Infographic from

Second of all, social marketing isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. I'll bet you didn't have clients pouring in the first time you handed someone your business card, and you're not going to see overwhelming results from a week, or even a month, of social marketing, either. Just like traditional marketing, it's going to take consistency and time to begin to see the results of your efforts. Social marketing is an investment in the future of your company, not a quick fix for when you need some fast cash.

Social Marketing 101: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Social Marketing, But Didn’t Know How To Ask

There’s a whole lot to think about when it comes to social marketing. Let’s take a look at this infographic from, and then go over the 11 things it takes to implement a comprehensive strategy.

Infographic courtesy of Maximize Your Social
1. Branding

Think about Nike. When you see the Nike symbol, you automatically associate it with certain things, like their slogan, “Just Do It”; athletic shoes; sports; perhaps Olympic athletes they’ve sponsored. This is called branding.

In the social world, branding is the “voice” behind your social posts.

Some social posts are chatty and informal:
“OMG, you are never going to BELIEVE what SewsALot has been up to for their back-to-school specials! Check out these adorable jumpers, on sale for $22 each!”

Some are more serious:
“Only 1.7% of employers deal with a workplace bully in a satisfactory way. It’s time to stamp out workplace bullying once and for all. Call 1-800-XXX-XXXX to add your voice to the millions of others who are fighting workplace bullying.”

Whether you are doing your own social media marketing as the business owner or have hired someone to help you with it, make sure that your online “voice” is consistent across all of your social media channels.

2. Content

This goes back to offering your customers useful information on social media instead of just spamming them with “buy my stuff” posts. Good content offers tips, starts conversations, provokes thought, and even changes lives. Content should include text and a photo at the very least, but videos, infographics, presentations, quizzes, surveys … all of these things are good for getting those likes and shares – those “social signals” -- that Google loves.

By the way, social media also includes blogging, and blogging is a great way to get longer content, such as “how to” or “FAQ” presentations, out there.

3. Curation

“Curation” is a fancy word for sharing content from an authority with your customers. For instance, if you are a dog trainer and you happen to see a great article from Victoria Stillwell or Cesar Millan, if you share that article with your followers, you’re curating it. It’s a fantastic way of offering your customers great information from an expert, and it makes you look good, too, because it shows that you care about keeping up with the best practices in your field, and your customers will benefit from your continued learning.

Just make sure to give credit where credit’s due. If you start swiping content from your favorite expert’s blog and claiming it as your own, you’re going to violate their copyrights and eventually Google will find about you, and you can kiss your first-page status goodbye.

4. Channels

There are more than 50 social networks having at least 10 million members each. Most companies choose to focus on the biggies: Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. But which channels you use depends on the nature of your business and where your customers like to hang out.

Keep in mind that each channel has its own peculiarities with regards to formatting, what they will and won’t allow you to do, when and how many posts are seen, how graphics show up, and so on. Some play nicely with other software tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, some (notably Facebook) don’t.

5. Frequency

More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to the frequency of social media posts.

For instance, only 1-5% of your fans on Facebook will even see your posts in the first place, and you’ll have the best chance of reaching that 1-5% between 6-8 AM in your time zone. Any subsequent posts receive a 57% decrease in likes and 78% decrease in comments.

Twitter, on the other hand, seems to tolerate more frequent posts. I’ve even heard of companies that tweeted every 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. That works out to 96 tweets a day! So you’ll need to spend some time figuring out exactly when and how often your posts are reaching your audience most effectively.

6. Engagement

Engagement, or proactive engagement, is actually two things. The first part of proactive engagement sort of goes along with content: it’s scanning blogs, other social media feeds, and news feeds, looking for interesting tidbits to share with your customers. For instance, I recently posted a video of a little girl singing with her daddy on my band’s Facebook page. Our fans loved it, and that post got a whole bunch of likes, shares, and comments. Mission accomplished.

The second part of proactive engagement is kind of like making an outgoing phone call to share news and updates with your fans, only instead of just calling one person, you’re calling everybody at once. You might want to tell everybody about a sale you’re having, or a special offer you’re promoting, or celebrate someone’s birthday, or you might have a quiz or survey for them to fill out.

7. Listening

Listening, or reactive engagement – I actually prefer the term “responsive engagement” – is sort of like answering incoming phone calls. Sometimes people just call you up to say hello and see how you’re doing. Sometimes they call to ask a question. Sometimes – okay, a lot of times – they call up to complain. The same thing happens on social media.

Here’s a couple of stats that demonstrate the importance of keeping track of what’s going on in your social media world:

67% of 23,000 consumers surveyed said they had used a company’s social media site for customer service.
A recent study showed 71% of customers who complained via Twitter were not contacted by the company.

Do you have to respond to every like, share, or favorite? No … but it doesn’t take much time. And it doesn’t hurt to simply say “thank you” for the cyber-love.

8. Campaign

Campaigns are about getting to know your followers, and they’re great social signal generators! People love quizzes and surveys; 39% of participants in a “pick your favorite” ad campaign post share it with their friends.

Once again, each social media channel has its own peculiarities when it comes to campaigns, so you’ll need to do some experimenting to find out what works.

9. Influencers

Influencers know their industry, and they are experts on how to engage with their followers.  They are the ones with gazillions of likes, favorites, and shares on each of their posts. A good example of an influencer on Facebook is George Takei.

Even though it’s not easy figuring out who these people are in your industry -- never mind how to get their attention so that they’ll help you spread your message -- it’s worth seeking them out and developing online relationships with them.  

10. Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors are the people who love you: loyal customers, current employees, company alumni … these are the people who are your evangelists. They’re taking your brand name out into the world and giving you glowing reviews. Remember this statistic? 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of marketing! Your brand ambassadors deserve to be richly rewarded. Reach out to them on social media by offering employee and loyalty discounts or other goodies for their hard work!

11. Crisis Management

Social media is not unlike live radio or TV, and occasionally someone “broadcasts” a head-slapping faux pas that needs to be dealt with professionally in order to avoid utter decimation of the company image. A great example is the lewd photo that was accidentally Tweeted to a US Airways customer on the company’s official Twitter page, an event that made headlines in April 2014. Fortunately, US Airways dealt with this social media crisis in the best way possible, and the whole thing blew over quickly with a minimum of kerfuffle. 

Oh, man, that looks like a lot of work! How long does it take to do all this stuff?

That’s a great question, and you’re right, it IS a lot of work to do it right! Not only does creating or looking for good content take time, but interacting with followers takes time, tapping into what your customers are interested in takes time, tailoring posts for each channel takes time, monitoring your analytics takes time, figuring out who your influencers and brand ambassadors are takes time, coming up with campaigns takes time…

Of course, in a perfect world, you, the business owner, would do your own social networking. This would allow your online fans to get to know you and interact with you personally, and it builds trust. 

However, the one thing that most small business owners lack most is time. Once it is established, a decent social networking strategy takes AT LEAST two hours to maintain, every single day; more if you’re writing your own content, which can average up to 20 hours for a 3,000-word article.

The other thing that most small business owners don’t have is the energy to take the learning curve on this stuff. In fact, many business owners would rather die than deal with social media! When you’re doing everything from managing employees to ordering inventory to bookkeeping to changing light bulbs, chances are the LAST thing on the planet you want to do is worry about your online marketing strategy.

This is where hiring a decent online marketer will save the day -- and your sanity. It’s their job to take all of this stuff off your plate and free you up to focus on what you do best: running your business.

Go Back: Part Two, Word-of-Mouth on Steroids
Go Back: Part One, Traditional Word-of-Mouth

Ready to for some help with your online marketing? 

Contact Us:

Catharine Symblème, Business Evangelist
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

Here's your opportunity to help Symblème Services Online with OUR social signals -- and get online marketing suggestions on your favorite social media newsfeed! Like us on Facebook; Follow us on Twitter, or Follow us on Google Plus. 

You can also get online marketing suggestions delivered to your email inbox by signing up right here on Symblème Services Online!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Word-Of-Mouth Marketing: The Shocking Truth and What to Do About It (Part Two: Word-of-Mouth on Steroids)

So, Why the Heck is Social Media Such A Big Freakin' Deal, Anyway?

Word-Of-Mouth Marketing On Steroids

"Social media marketing has taken your father’s word of mouth campaigns and put them on steroids.” ~ Karl Walinskas 

Word-of-mouth, or what the pros call “relationship marketing” is still the best way to get new customers.  92% of people trust recommendations from people they know, more than all other forms of marketing. 77% of them are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family.

But here’s the kicker: 
  • 81% of U.S. online consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced by their friends’ SOCIAL MEDIA posts
  • 85% of fans of businesses ON FACEBOOK recommend those companies to others.
  • 43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it on SOCIAL MEDIA. 
Word-of-mouth has now migrated to social media!

Let’s Talk About Millennials for a minute 

Millennials – those 18-34-year-olds who drive us old farts up the wall by spending so much of their time talking and texting on their smart phones and other gadgets – now make up a quarter of the U.S. population, and they are able to spend somewhere between 200 billion and 1.3 trillion dollars on your products and services.

From the Huffington Post:
  • They don’t read paper newspapers to see the ads.
  • They don’t watch television commercials.
  • They are oblivious to billboards, telemarketers, postcards, and any other type of traditional marketing.
  • 51% of them learn about brands on Facebook. 
  • 63% stay updated on brands through social networks.
  • 84% report that user generated content (blog posts, articles, etc.) on company websites at least somewhat influences what they buy
And if that weren't enough to convince you to take social media seriously, remember that website discussion we had in Part One?

The Other Reason Social Media is a Big Deal: Your Website Rankings

A “social signal” is a Facebook Like or a Twitter Favorite or other social media interaction. Google has begun taking social signals very seriously when it comes to where your website shows up in searches, because, as Ryan Biddulph commented here, "Social signals are social proof, or testimonials, or reviews, and when you’re receiving endorsements via social, your site should move up on search." 

Let’s take a look at this graph for a minute:

Chart from

Remember in Part One, I pointed out that Jim’s Custom Diesel appeared on the first page of a Google search as a Google Plus page?

Even though Google Plus is new and small site compared to the social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, Google -- naturally -- wants wants to promote its own products. As a result, Google gives more weight to social signals from Google Plus than it does Facebook or any other social networking site.

By now, you should be "getting it" that effective word-of-mouth marketing in the Information Age hinges on three big things: 

1. Traditional word-of-mouth and face-to-face networking
2. A website that makes Google happy so that it puts you on the first page of keyword searches, and
3. Social media engagement

Read On! Part Three: The 11 Elements of a Comprehensive Social Marketing Strategy
Back to Part One: Traditional Word-of-Mouth Marketing

If you found this article useful, would you do me a favor? Would you help me improve my own social signals by Liking Symbleme Services Online on Facebook; Following us on Twitter, or Following us on Google Plus. 

You can also get online marketing suggestions delivered to your email inbox by signing up right here on Symblème Services Online!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Word-Of-Mouth Marketing: The Shocking Truth and What to Do About It (Part One: Traditional Word of Mouth Marketing)

Build It and They Will Come

You know you have the most wonderful business in the world, right? You worked long and hard to get educated, get certified, and design, create, or produce your product or service. Everybody wants you or needs you, either because you're necessary (you're a plumber) or because you're uber-cool (you make intentionally mismatched socks so that twelve-year-old girls have something to talk about at recess.)

So why aren't customers beating down your door?

It's quite simple: it's because they don't know about you.

"Field of Dreams" was a beautiful, inspiring movie, but in real life, the "Build It and They Will Come" philosophy doesn't usually work all that well. No matter how much your customers, family, and friends may love you, no matter how much you may bug them to help you spread the word about your business, it’s not their butts on the line, and they're probably going to let you down.

No, there's no getting around it: ya gotta suck it up and market yourself.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Here’s a funny video about what probably actually happens when you give someone your business card:

Okay, all silliness aside, traditional word-of-mouth marketing – spreading the news about your business through friends, customers, and family – is still a very effective way of telling potential new customers about your business.

However, as it turns out, exchanging names and phone numbers is only the first step of persuading those potential customers to buy from you. Take a look at what actually happens when a potential customer is given your name and possibly your phone number or email:

(Infographic courtesy of Ticsyformacion)

As you can see, 9 out of 10 potential customers RESEARCHED THE BUSINESS ONLINE before making contact!!

How did these customers do their research?

1.      First, they went to the business website
2.      Second, they used a search engine to look for information about the business. (75% of Internet users use Google as their primary search engine.)
3.      Finally, they turned to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets

When the customers finally made a decision whether or not to contact the business, they based it on three things:

1.      The person who told them about it
2.      The website
3.      Reviews

As you can see, your reputation is no longer enough to get you customers.

But what about those free business listings on the Internet? Can’t customers find me that way? 

Let's suppose that I'm a potential customer who lives in Alamosa, Colorado, and I'm looking for an RV repair person. Someone gave me your name, Terry, as an RV repair person, but they didn't know your phone number or email address. Let's take a look at what happens when I type "terry's rv service alamosa" into Google:

Okay, there you are at the top of the page, so I click on that link and get this:

Well, okay, this gives me some basic information like your phone number and location and stuff, but it doesn't really tell me much about YOU, your philosophy, your history, and especially what other people thought about you and your sevices. There’s nothing that makes you stand out from every other RV repair person around.

Now, let's take a look at another scenario: I'm an out-of-towner looking for RV service in Alamosa. I don't have the name of your business. So I type "rv service alamosa" into Google.

Here's what comes up:

There's the usual boring yellowpages listings, and then over to the right is your competitor, Jim's Custom Diesel. Now, in reality, Jim's Custom Diesel may or may not actually repair RVs ... but the fact that he's showing up on the first page of a Google search – and you’re not – means that you probably just lost a potential customer to Jim’s Custom Diesel.

There's another interesting thing about this search. If you look closely, you'll notice that the link to Jim's Custom Diesel is a link to a Google Plus page. Not surprisingly, Google likes to promote its own products. We'll come back to that a little later.

Okay, Okay, I Get It: I Need a Website 

So, you decide to cave under peer pressure and build a website. You either hire someone to do it for you, or you put it together yourself. You have your contact information on it, lots of pretty pictures, an About Us page stating whatever makes you different from everybody else, some articles that establish you as an authority in your field, and maybe a storefront to sell your stuff.

Your website is beautiful. You're very proud of it.

But nobody's visiting.


Nobody can find it.

Let's pretend now that I have a deaf dog, and I want to learn more about deaf dogs. Someone told me about a great informational blog about deaf dogs called ourdeafdogs, so first I do a Google search for "deaf dogs". Here's what comes up:

Hm, not seeing the website I was looking for...wait, what was the name of it again? Oh, look, here's another website about deaf dogs! Maybe I'll try looking at that one instead...

Now, if I actually give a rip about you and whether you starve or not, I might try being a little more specific with my search and type in the actual name of your website, "ourdeafdogs":

As you can see, even for a fairly unusual search -- in this case, information on deaf dogs -- the business website didn't show up at all on the first page of a Google search for "deaf dogs", and it didn't show up until toward the bottom of the first page on a search for the actual website, "ourdeafdogs".

This is bad. Very, very bad. 


According to these statistics, 94% of users never make it past page one of a Google search, and according to these statistics, a full 1/3 of Google users click on the first link on the first page!

So how do I get my business website on the first page of a Google search?

Well, that’s the golden question. The competition for that first page is fierce, and an absolutely ginormous industry called SEO – short for Search Engine Optimization -- has sprung up around answering it.

According to Backlinko, there are over 200 different things that affect where your website shows up on Google! However, to simplify things, here are the top 5:

A “keyword” is something a potential customer might type into Google to find your business, for instance, "decorative concrete". A “title tag” refers to the title of a page on a website or blog.

If you have a fly fishing business, and you’ve written a nice article or blog post about the best places to go fly fishing in your area, then the words “fly fishing” should appear toward the beginning of your article’s title. So instead of a title like “The 10 Best Places to Go Fly Fishing in Southern Colorado”, you should choose a title like “Fly Fishing in Southern Colorado: The 10 Best Places to Take Your Rod and Your Family”

2. KEYWORD PROMINENCE AND POSITIONING Going back to our fly fishing business, if you make sure the words “fly fishing” show up in your article 5-6 times, especially in the first couple of paragraphs, it’s going to help that article show up higher in a Google search.

Google likes good content. And it likes good LONG content. Part of this probably has to do with DWELL TIME, or how long visitors to choose to hang out on your website before clicking away.

Google likes pages that have 1500 or more words on them. This is partly why having a BLOG may actually help more people find your business than just a website.

This is by far the most important factor in determining your placement in Google searches. Page authority is determined by the number and quality of other websites who link to your website. If your fly fishing business is considered authoritative enough by OTHER fly fishing businesses that they link to your articles … that’s really, really good!

Page authority is also affected by what is known as your “social signal”: things like Facebook Likes and Google Plus +1s. This is where your social media stuff comes in.

Your domain is basically your website’s home page, like When ranking a page, Google also looks at how awesome your whole domain in general is.  

The best thing you can do to beef up your domain authority is to create really great stuff for your customers to read, promote it through social media, get your competition to link to it, and encourage your visitors to share it with their online friends.

Wrapping up Part One:

In the 1990s, simply having a "set-it-and-forget-it" website was probably enough to give you an edge over your competitors. But now, in 2014, there are over 3 billion websites on the Web, all competing for that first page on Google.

Just having a website is no longer enough. It’s time to include social media as part of your online marketing strategy.

Read on! Part Two: Social Media -- Word-of-Mouth On Steroids

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Monday, August 4, 2014

How Much Does Social Media Marketing Cost?

Just to put my fees in perspective! ;-) Here's an excerpt from a very informative article on

Read the full article here.

~ Catharine


How Much Does Social Media Marketing Cost?

We get a lot of inquiries about the cost of social media marketing services, and questions about why we charge what we do in relation to other online PR agencies. Before starting The Content Factory, Joan Barrett and I did a ton of research about professional social media marketing agencies – and quickly came to the conclusion that there was no way we were ever going to charge any of our clients that much.

Mack Collier, one of the thought leaders of the professional social media marketing world and the writer of a fairly awesome blog, wrote a really interesting post about how much online PR costs businesses these days. If there's a guy around who knows what people are charging, it's him — and holy hell do those people ask for a crapload of money! Here's what the industry averages are (and no, we're not making any of these numbers up):

How Much Does Marketing With Twitter Cost?

Launching a new Twitter account, complete with setup and outsourcing content creation/consumer interaction (all 140 characters at a time), costs an average of $2,000-$4,000 per month – and that's just for Twitter. With that said, the total price range was $1,000-$7,500 per month.

What if you already have an existing Twitter account, but need some help to take it to the next level? Restructuring an existing Twitter account with "limited coaching" to achieve client goals is still going to cost you between $1,000-$2,500 per month, with some charging as much as $4,000 per month…just for Twitter! That's right, if you want Facebook, you're paying extra.

How Much Does Marketing With Facebook Cost?

If you thought the costs of marketing with Twitter were high, you might want to grab your fainting chair — Facebook marketing rates will give you a case of the vapors. To set up a new Facebook account and provide limited ongoing training to business partners, online PR agencies charge an average of $2,500-$5,000 per month, with some going as high as $9,000. Of course, this also includes status updates and interacting with customers. You know what it doesn't include, though? Strategy. No joke.

If you're shelling out a minimum of $4,500 per month for Facebook and Twitter management, you're not getting any strategy behind the efforts. That costs extra (sort of like adding bacon, but not as tasty). Now, we'll admit that the strategy is the most important part — you've got to go into social media marketing with a game plan and a list of goals, or you'll never really get anywhere. This is the reason you don't want to outsource this work to your friend who once took a class in marketing at a local community college. Online PR agencies know this, so they make sure to charge you for their expertise. You know, in case they're not getting enough of your money already.

How Much Does Social Media Strategy Cost?

Creating a "comprehensive" strategy for social media marketing and outsourcing all work for all channels (with a minimum of two) costs anywhere from $3,000-$20,000 per month, with the industry average settling between $4,000-$7,000 per month. If you want them to start the accounts from scratch and consult on a 4- to 12-month contract, you'll pay between $3,000-$15,000 per month. What do they mean by channels, minimum of two? That's just a fancy way of saying that the cost includes both Facebook and Twitter…I'm betting there's probably an upcharge if your company wants Foursquare, too.

How Much Does an Audit of Twitter and Facebook Cost?

What if you just want an audit of your current strategy, with a few pointers on how to improve? Better bust out the AmEx, because it's going to cost you anywhere from$2,000-$10,000.
Why Does Social Media Marketing Cost So Much?

Don't ask us, because we don't know. These rates don't even include the cost of content, which means that you still have to pay for blogs, press releases, landing pages and all the other stuff that acts as fuel for social media marketing accounts. Sure, you can link to a lot of great articles on other websites, but what's the point of constantly directing your fans and followers to sites other than your own? Content comes first, and that costs even more.

In our minds, the average price of social media marketing is downright obnoxious. What small business owner can afford such high fees? What medium business owner could? Sure, companies who like to light their money on fire can justify that sort of cost — but what about everyone else? Everyone else is who we like to focus on (our competitors can keep their $20k per month rates…they probably come with a whole lot more harassment from angry clients than we'd be willing to tolerate).

Read the full article here.

Want more tips on social media marketing for your small business? Like Symblème Services on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, or Circle us on Google Plus. If you're not a social media maven, you can also subscribe for email updates by filling out the form to your right.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How Social Media Can Affect Your Search Engine Rankings

This is an INCREDIBLE article by Sandeep Sharma that pulls together hard data for all of you number geeks. I love this quote from the comments:

"Social signals are social proof, or testimonials, or reviews, and when you’re receiving endorsements via social, your site should move up on search." -- Ryan Biddulph

By Sandeep Sharma

Now more than ever, marketing experts are improving their marketing strategy with fewer resources, and they are shifting marketing budgets from traditional to digital tactics like search engine optimization and social media. Companies, too often, omit their social media marketing strategy from their SEO strategy, which is a grave mistake. A study conducted by Ascend2 indicates that companies with the strongest SEO via social media strategies now produce the best results, and vice-versa. Companies that consider themselves “very successful” at search engine optimization are integrating social media into their strategy, whereas, companies that are “not successful” at search engine optimization are not integrating social media into their strategy.

See the graph below:

In the above graph, companies with successful SEO are in blue while those companies with an inferior SEO strategy are in amber. You can see 38% of those doing very well with search engine optimization were also extensively integrating social media. A full 50% of those doing poorly at search engine optimization were not integrating social media at all in their strategy. This graph signifies that companies that are succeeding in search engine optimization today are including social in their strategy.

SEO is much more than just high ranking in Google. It is a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive approach to website optimization that ensures potential customers, who come to your website, will have an excellent experience, easily find what they are looking for, and have an easy time sharing your optimum-quality content. The combination of SEO and social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can be overwhelming for big as well as small business marketers. Until recently, search engine optimization and social media marketing were thought of as two very different things, but actually these are two sides of the same coin. Consider the below mentioned social network growth statistics:
  • YouTube hosts nearly 14 billion videos. Source: comScore
  • Google sites handle about 100 billion searches each month. Source: SEL
  • Facebook is now over 1 billion users. Source: Mark Zuckerberg
  • Twitter has over 550 million accounts. Source: Statistics Brain
  • Google+ has over 500 million users. Source: Google
  • LinkedIn is at 225 million users. Source: LinkedIn
  • Pinterest grew 4,377% in 2012 and continues to expand with 25 million users. Source:TechCrunch 
Following statistics shows how social media is quite helpful in effective search engine optimization:
  • 94% increase in CTR (Click-Thru-Rate) when search and social media are used together. Source:eMarketer
  • 50% of consumers use a combination of search and social media to make purchase decisions. Source: Inc
  • Consumers who use social media (vs. people who don’t) are 50% more likely to use search. Source: srcibd
  • Websites with a Google+ business page yield a 15% rise in search rank. Source: Open Forum
With these statistics, we can say that social media can be a primary engine for promoting new content and can take your website from zero visibility to a strong performing position almost overnight. For enhancing SEO through social media platform two factors plays a vital role, which are social signals and natural link building. I have explained these two factors in an elaborative manner:

What’s Your Social Signal?

Signals are signals to various search engines that your content or information is valuable. Every time someone likes, shares, tweets or +1′s content about your brand, especially a link, they are sending a social signal and the more social signals means you have better chances to rank high on search engine result pages. Many researchers have found that social shares are quite valuable when it comes to building your website authority. Here is the latest research from Searchmetrics, highlighting which social signals correlate to rankings on Google:

Note that 7 out of the top 9 factors are social signals. Now, it’s clear that social signals can have a huge impact on your search rankings, especially social signals from Google+. If you do not have time to leverage all of the social networking sites, then make sure that Google+ is one of the few you do use because it will play the biggest part in increasing your rankings on search engines. Top social signals that Google is tracking on your website are mentioned below:


Google+ is a fledgling community when it is compared to social networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, but its social signals have the most impact on search ranking results. Some factors that you should look at are:

  • Amount of +1s- You need to start distinguishing +1 to your website in general and +1 to each pieces of your content. You should increase +1s to your brand/your authorship profile. This also applies to +1s on Local+ pages.
  • Authority of +1s- If your profile or brand gets more +1, then you will get to rank higher and easier for the future content you produce.
  • Growth rate of +1s- You should strategize a plan that will increase your +1 steadily over an extended period of time.
  • Amount of Adds and Shares- How many people are following and sharing your content tells about how authoritative you are.
  • Authority of Adds and Shares- Who is following you is also important. A network with people with great profiles helps you to establish a voice.


The king of social networking sites, Facebook has an active community of over 900 million. Millions of active users make it a perfect platform for generating social signals. Various researches have shown that Facebook influences more search rankings as compare to Google+ or Twitter. Some factors that you should look at are:

  • Amount of Shares and Likes- You should remember that “shares” carry more weight than “likes”.
  • Amount of Comments- The collective amount of likes, shares and comments correlate the closest with search ranking.


Twitter is second only to Facebook and boasts 500 million users that are constantly “tweeting”, status updates and events in real time. Twitter users, known as “tweeps”, puts more premium on a tweet’s authority rather than sheer amount; though the overall social signals generated by it lags just a little behind Facebook.

On twitter you should look at some factors like:

  • Authority of followers, mentions and retweets
  • Number of followers, mentions and retweets
  • Speed and intensity of tweets and RT over time
  • Other social websites like Pinterest, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, and FourSquare

The big three, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, play quite important role when it comes to social ranking factors, but you should not ignore the potential of other user-driven social websites like Pinterest, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, and FourSquare. On these social networking sites you should look at following factors:

  • Amount of Pins and re-pins on Pinterest
  • Comments on Pinterest
  • Growth rate of Pins and Re-pins
  • Check-ins on Foursquare
  • Spread rate of check-ins at FourSquare
  • Upvotes on Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon
  • Comments on Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon
  • Link Development through Social Media

The traditional way of link building like en-masse link directories, spammy comments, forum-posts for the sake of links, and anchor text sculpting are over now. In the modern era, the powerful way to build link is effective content marketing strategy. People love informative and quality content, and they love sharing content. Social media sites are one of the best platforms for content marketing, in this way these are quite important for natural link development.

How to build natural and quality links through Social Media Platforms

There are two tactics that will help you immensely in earning quality and natural links through Social Medial Platforms are:

Link-building through interaction and community engagement

If you’re link-building but never building relationships or never interacting with people, you’re not really link building: you are spamming. If you interact with people who might care about your brand, you can gain a cutting edge over other competitors. Meaningful interactions with audience in your niche prove your credibility and will lead to more authority links.

You can also get links through interaction from a popular site or a popular brand, when they post to their Facebook page, make a Google+ post, launch a new blog post, or put up a new video on YouTube. In this case, I also recommend you to interact early and often. Early because a lot of times, being in the first five or ten comments, interactions, or engagements really helps you to be seen by the editors who are almost always watching. When you do such interaction, make sure you are adding value, by doing this you make yourself stand out in the comments. You can add value by doing a little bit of detailed research and by making the conversation more interesting. By posting great comments, you will create interest in target customers and they often click your profile that will latently earn you some links. In addition to this, you can also offer help to other people and you can help people without being asked. This is a great way to drive links back to your own site and you can do this, not just on blog posts, but on Google+ posts, Facebook pages, and YouTube comments.

Link building through quality content

In addition to gaining links from popular sites, you can also earn links by posting qualitative and linkable content on social media platforms. If you create content that people find valuable and informative, they are more likely to want to share it. What people find valuable can vary, but optimum quality blog posts and infographics that provide well-researched information, statistics, and new angles on a subject are all good starting points. A good and informative video that attracts viewers’ attention is eminently shareable, which is one reason nearly 87% of agency and brand marketers now creating video for content marketing. When someone reads your quality and informative content on social media sites and finds it of valuable, it is more likely that they will want to link to it.

In order to give your informative content the best chance of reaching a wide audience, you should identify the key influencers or target audience in your field. In this way, you will be able to target your efforts effectively. Facebook and Twitter are the two go-to social media platforms for most people but you should also seek out targets on other platforms such as Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr. In addition to this, if you are marketing within specific regions, you might want to channel your efforts to the most popular websites in each market. For example, VK is the preferred social media website in Russia, while Orkut can help extend your reach within Brazil and India.

You can also use various tools and services that can help you find the best targets. For example, Followerwonk offers a Twitter analytics service and it can help you to compare and sort followers by looking at data such as social authority scores and the percentage with URLs. Furthermore, you can also gauge reactions to your own tweets by monitoring your activity alongside current follower numbers. Apart from this, Fresh Web Explorer is a handy tool, as it searches for mentions of your brand, company or other keyword and automatically matches this with ‘feed authority’. In this way, you can sort key influencers from those with less perceived authority that will allow you to target your efforts more effectively.

Now, it is clear that social media is an essential part of search engine optimization. The following diagram explains you a blueprint of how social media supports SEO:

Quality Content gets published- One of the best ways to increase quality traffic to your website is to publish sharable, useful and relevant content on social media sites.

Content gets Shares, Links, & Likes- As you start publishing your company’s blog posts or research work on a regular basis and spreading it across the social networking sites, your content will start generating shares, links, and “likes”.

Sites Gain Subscriptions while Social Profiles get Fans & Followers- As a result, your site’s blog will gain more subscribers and your social media channels will gain more followers, fans, and connections.

Thriving Community Supporting the Website & Social Networks Grows- A thriving community of people who are interested in your user-focused content develops and starts to thrive.

Reputation Reinforced through Social Media & SEO as Authoritative Brand for the Niche-Signals are sent to various search engines about your activity on social media platforms and your keyword-rich and informative content. Your website starts being viewed as reputable, relevant, and authoritative.

Sites Gain Authority in Search Engines- As a result, your website and its informative and quality content starts appearing higher and more frequently in the top rankings and listings of search engines for your keyword phrases and targeted keywords.

Sustainable Stream of Users Discover the Site organically- A consistently growing stream of users will begin discovering the website via the social media sites, search engines, and your email marketing efforts.

I have explained how aligning SEO and social media efforts can really enhance your SEO performance. In order to execute this task effectively, you might even like to hire experienced SEO experts. You should make sure that your social media and SEO teams are working together in order to create a unified digital marketing strategy.

Sandeep Sharma is a Project Manager with a prominent digital media marketing company TIS India and has been for the last 10 years. He loves to create aesthetically appealing websites & eye-popping user interfaces for international clients. You can follow him on Twitter and Google Plus.

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